New research challenges the link between the weather and joint pain

Many people believe there is a connection between the weather and joint or muscle pain, but a team of researchers from the Kolling Institute and the University of Sydney say their latest study has found there is no link between the two.

Lead author Professor Manuela Ferreira said there is a longstanding belief that changes in weather conditions, such as rain or temperature variations, can trigger or worsen muscle and joint pain, but based on their analyses, they have found the weather has no direct influence on the most common musculoskeletal conditions.

“We looked at data from over 15,000 people from seven different countries,” she said.

“Together, these people reported over 28,000 episodes of pain, mostly back pain, knee or hip osteoarthritis. We also included people with rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

“We then looked at the frequency of those pain reports in different types of weather, hot, cold, humid, dry, rainy and found no difference.

“In other words, people do not experience more pain or pain flares when it is hot, or cold, or humid or raining suggesting there is no direct link between the weather and joint or muscle pain.

“The only exception was gout where we found hot and dry weather can increase the risk of a flare in people with gout.”

Professor Ferreira said the study highlights a wider issue that even though more than a quarter of Australians are affected by a chronic musculoskeletal condition, there are still widespread misconceptions and limited treatment options.

“Patients are often left to navigate and understand their medical condition without access to reliable information,” she said.

“Our research has debunked a common myth, and we hope shifted attention to evidenced based care.

“When seeking pain prevention and relief, both patients and clinicians should focus on how to best manage the condition, including weight management and exercises, and not let the weather influence any treatment.”

The study has been published in Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism.